Verdict: Clever folding bike that's fun to ride, but not without its issues
Value for money
Simple and quick to fold
Motor does a good job
Easy to wheel when folded
Really heavy considering its size
Fold isn't the most compact
Buy if: You're looking for an easy fold for a commute that doesn't involve any heavy lifting
The Kwik Fold Xite is certainly an interesting bike, and depending on your particular use case it might suit. The fold is very clever and genuinely takes just a few seconds, and actually it’s quite a lot of fun to ride. It’s really heavy for a folding bike, though, and the fold isn’t the smallest out there in spite of the tiny wheels. That means putting the Kwik Fold in the back of a small car – or lugging upstairs – is a whole lot harder than with other folding bikes we’ve tried.
The fold: clever and quick, but not the smallest
Let’s deal with the fold first, because it’s what Kwik-Fold leads with in its name and also on its website. “The folding ability of the KwikFold XITE is one of its many strengths”, it says. “The innovative folding frame takes just seconds to completely fold into its compact ‘X’ shape, and equally as quick to unfold, making your journey easier than ever before. To further increase its compactness, the bike is equipped with folding handlebars and pedals, and a retractable seat post. The innovative design makes it perfect for commuting and storage.”
It’s certainly true that it’s a really easy fold. To get it on a train, all you need to do is unhook the main lever and concertina the bike. It folds up longitudinally, with both wheels still on the floor so it’s easy to wheel around. Most of the time that’ll do, but you can also drop the saddle and stem, fold in the pedals and collapse the handlebars for maximum compactness. The whole process takes maybe half a minute, with the main fold done in just a few seconds.
It’s good as far as it goes, but it’s still a fairly big package when it’s folded. Certainly it’s bigger than a bike that folds down in a more traditional manner, like the Tern Vektron. That bike has bigger wheels, but the folded package is much more boot-shaped because it folds back against itself. It’s deeper, but not as long, and the length is the problem with the Kwik Fold. You can get it in the back of a reasonably sized family car. You can't get it in the back of a Kia Picanto though. We tried.
The ride: fun, with enough power for some fairly steep hills
Once you’ve unfolded the Xite and hopped on, you can have quite a lot of fun. The bike only comes in one size, and I’m tall (1.89m); I had the seatpost extended all the way up and that puts you quite a long way back on the bike. It doesn’t ever feel particularly vague though, with the steering giving good feedback even through the long and fairly flexy stem.
The Bafang motor is punchy with the tiny wheels, and the bike is geared very low so there’s plenty of ratios for climbing. That means that you’re spinning out above about 14mph, but this isn’t a bike that you really want to go quick on. It’s a short-hop bike for trips of a couple of miles, really. The low gearing from the Shimano 7-speed drivetrain, and decent motor performance, mean that the Kwik Fold tackles hills better than you might imagine; the pics in this review were taken at a park that’s up a steep hill, about 200m at over 10%. The bike didn’t really struggle to make it to the top. There are five levels of assistance available, which is overkill for a bike like this. Three would be plenty. On the way back down the cable-operated disc brakes are plenty powerful enough to haul you to a stop.
One thing that is noticeable is that the bike feels much more powerful with a full battery; that’s often the case with cheaper motor systems. The battery is fairly big, at 374Wh, but the range of the bike isn’t huge; I was getting a couple of laps of my commute out of it, that’s around 20km with some big hills. As I said before, though, range isn’t really a big issue with a bike like this. For most people that sort of range will be more than enough.
The equipment on the bike is decent. The shimano drivetrain is fuss-free, and you also get a front light plumbed into the motor system (though not a rear, oddly). There are plastic mudguards too that are basic but do a job. The kickstand is clever: it’s bent, which makes it look odd, but it rests on the bend when the bike’s unfolded, and on the foot when it’s folded. So it works in both configurations.
The promo video for the Xite shows lots of wheeling about in folded form, and lots of nice riding around in town. If your commute is just that, then you could get on well with the bike, assuming you’re not riding far. If you have to get it into the boot of your car, or up flights of stairs to your apartment or office – or if you have to carry it or lift it at all, really – then you might run into problems, because at 23kg it’s really heavy. That’s the weight of a full-sized electric city bike, and it means that even for me – a fully fit bloke weighing about 92kg – it’s hard work to carry this bike, or manhandle it into a vehicle. Kwik Fold really needs to shave some weight off this bike to make it more appealing to a wider range of uses. That is, apparently, something they’re looking at for the next iteration. If you don’t have beefy arms or you live on the third floor, it’s probably best to wait.
Overall: some good points, some bad
Overall it’s a bit of a mixed bag, really. I can imagine the Kwik Fold being just the ticket if you want to put it in the garage in the back of your motorhome and pull it out for buzzing around when you’re parked up. Similarly, if you’re doing a mixed commute that doesn’t involve much lifting, then it might work pretty well. If you have to get it into a small car or a small space at home then the fold isn’t the most compact, and it’s heavy and difficult to lift. So there are upsides and downsides: have a think about what your riding involves and you’ll probably be able to work out if the Xite is a good fit for you.
Dave lives at the top of a big hill and his office is at the bottom, so he's all in favour of a helping hand. Plus, e-bikes are fun! He's the editor of ebiketips and one of the founders of EBT's road cycling sister site, road.cc. He used to work on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike back in the day, and he's a former mountain bike bog snorkelling World Champion. Really.